Crossrail’s central stations construction programme started to slip as early as 2016, the project’s chief executive Mark Wild has revealed.
He told a Commons Public Accounts Committee that the impact of this was critical to delaying the line’s opening, as stations had to be finished before the systems testing could start, in line with the 2010 baseline programme.
Wild took over running the project in November 2018.
A “compression of the accumulation of risks on the systems testing” has widely been reported by Crossrail as the reason for its £2.15bn cost overrun and delay. Crossrail was due to open in December 2018 with a new timeline yet to be set.
”The amalgamation of system integration risk wasn’t properly assessed,” said Wild. “It’s clear now with hindsight, that the management team did not have a good enough grip or understanding of the work to do and particularly the adjacency of work between the stations and trains and the amalgamation of different work streams.”
During the hearing, Wild said that Crossrail bosses have worked up a revised programme for the remainder of the works that need completing.
Under the new programme, Wild said that systems testing completion would now happen before the completion of the stations.
“If you go back to the 2010 baseline, this is a key point about what’s really happened here, the stations should have been completed before the signalling system,” said Wild. “Now we’re in the exact opposite situation that the stations have slipped beyond the signalling system.
“Now that’s very, very important because the stations themselves supply the signalling system, so you really wanted to get all of the stations out of the way and then do the railway signalling system.”
When the programme started to slip, Wild said he thought that the project should have “paused for breath” to re-sequence the programme.
“They started to slip in 2016 into 2017, that’s important because I think that the ratcheting effect of systematic risk is building up,” he said. “This is a lesson for the future because really you want the stations completed before you put the trains through the tunnel, for obvious reasons.”
The revised programme for the completion of the works is now almost complete, after which he said he needed to get the supply chain to buy into it. This was expected to take three to four weeks.
A range of dates for the opening of the new line is expected to be presented to the DfT at the end of March. But Wild confirmed that “there was no opportunity to open the railway in 2019” and that it “very much wanted to get this done in 2020”.
Wild said the range of dates “could be quite large”, but would be narrowed when the programme became more certain.
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